The Pentax 04 Toy Lens Wide ($79.95 direct) is a compact wide-angle lens for Pentax Q cameras. It’s one of two toy lenses available for the system, and as such features a plastic barrel and lens mount and a narrow f/7.1 aperture, and it’s limited to manual focus only. Its field of view is roughly 30mm when paired with the Q7, but narrows slightly to 35mm when paired with older Q cameras.
It measures 1.6 by 1 inch (HD) and weighs only three-quarters of an ounce. The narrow aperture restricts you to shooting in brighter light; even at high ISO settings you’ll likely opt to add some flash to shots when working in dimmer conditions. The neatest aspect of the lens is its close focus ability; you can practically touch your subject with the front element and get an in-focus shot. Despite the modest aperture, getting in this close to your subject blurs the background behind it.
I tested the sharpness of the lens using Imatest, and found the results to be in line with its price and intended image quality. The lens scored 1,192 lines per picture height on the sharpness test, well short of the 1,800-line mark that denotes a sharp optic. Architectural shooters take note—this definitely isn’t the lens for taking accurate photos of buildings and interior spaces as it exhibits a whopping 7.7 percent barrel distortion when shooting in JPG and 9.5 percent in Raw mode with the Q7. You could correct for this in Lightroom, but you’ll have to manually dial in adjustments as there’s no built-in lens profile. That kind of defeats the purpose of a toy lens; it’s designed to deliver a lo-fi look.
At $80 the Pentax 04 Toy Lens Wide is a modest purchase in the world of camera lenses. Its low-fi look will please the Lomo crowd, especially when combined with the easily-accessible color filter modes available in the Q series. It’s only for shooters who really want this type of look though; the 02 Standard Zoom that is bundled with the Q7 covers the same field of view, and gives photos a more modern, sharp, and refined look. But for photographers who are looking for something different, it’s a good lens to get. When you think of toys, you think of fun, and at the end of the day, the 04 Toy Lens is an inexpensive, fun lens.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc